When a friend first mentioned she'd had a "bee sting facial" a few weeks ago, I must admit I briefly had a mental image of her face covered in swarming bees - but that's just silly, right?
Well, not entirely. Also known as the bee venom facial, this anti-ageing treatment is billed as a natural, non-invasive alternative to Botox. The products contain venom which is extracted - humanely - from the stingers of bees. When the mask is applied, the venom supposedly tricks the skin into reacting as though it's been stung, which increases blood flow, collagen and elasticity. The bee venom products also contain manuka honey, which soothes and heals the skin.
Still a relatively new and exclusive treatment, The Nail Spa, which has branches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, is the only chain of salons in the UAE offering the Heaven facial. And so, with a little trepidation, I headed to the spa's branch in Al Wahda Mall to see what the buzz was all about.
Camilla Parker-Bowles, Kate Middleton and Hollywood royalty such as Angelina Jolie and Michelle Pfeiffer are devotees of the treatment, so it seemed appropriate that my therapist was named Princess. Once I was comfortable and covered in warm blankets and towels, eyes closed and listening to the plinky panpipes music, Princess set to work, explaining every step of the process as she went.
After cleansing the day's make-up and grime away, a gentle exfoliant was applied to face, neck, upper arms and chest. The active ingredients in the exfoliant, Princess explained, would make my skin tingle a bit where I needed it most, and I did indeed feel a gentle tingling on my forehead and cheeks.
After toning the skin, a heavenly face, neck and arm massage began. It was such a relaxing experience that I nearly dozed off.
Next, a deep-cleansing mask was applied and while that was working its magic, Princess moved to the end of the bed and lifted the blankets to administer a foot and leg reflexology massage which nearly had me in the land of Nod again.
After the mask had been removed, my skin was moisturised and the bee venom mask applied. The venom causes a mild tingling sensation, but no pain. A brief head massage later and I was back to the real world, after one of the more indulgent spa treatments I've experienced.
The immediate effect was glowing, soft, smooth and supple skin. A consultation with colleagues the next day confirmed that my skin did look smoother and suppler, but it's not quite the drastic change a few shots of Botox would have resulted in.
The treatment is certainly something I would do again, particularly before a special occasion, and I am considering purchasing the Heaven products to use at home - although they don't come cheap. Now I feel refreshed and my skin feels great - definitely a treatment fit for a princess.
• The Heaven facial at The Nail Spa costs Dh500 for a 70-minute treatment, available at selected branches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Contact www.thenailspa.com for more information
Follow us @LifeNationalUAE
Follow us on Facebook for discussions, entertainment, reviews, wellness and news.